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Arraignment date set for Wayne Ray

Author(s): MARSHA SHULER CAPITOL NEWS BUREAU Date: November 24, 1087 Section: NEWS

A U.S. magistrate on Monday scheduled a Dec. 11 arraignment date for Gov. Edwin Edwards’ personal friend and aide Wayne Ray, who stands indicted on federal extortion and tax charges. U.S. Magistrate Stephen Riedlinger also allowed Ray to remain free until the trial – setting a $50,000 unsecured, personal recognizant bond on Ray, who made his first court appearance Monday.

Reidlinger generally outlined the charges in the indictment against Ray as the defendant stood with his attorneys, former East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Ossie Brown and Thomas Damico.

Riedlinger asked Ray if he understood the charges against him. Ray quietly answered, “Yes, sir. I do.”

in addition to setting the bond, the magistrate also told Ray that he could travel only within the Eastern and Middle Districts of Louisiana unless he received prior permission from the court. The districts generally are the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas.

Reidlinger noted that Ray has already turned in his passport.

The 43-year-old Ray was indicted after a six-month investigation into the role he played in state government.

Ray is charged with four counts of extortion for allegedly obtaining money from companies that do business with the state in return for help he might give them.

The indictment alleges Ray extorted more than $300,000.

In addition, he is charged with four counts of filing fraudulent federal income tax returns for his alleged failure to report the income from those transactions.

Ray’s indictment marks the end of the first phase of an on-going investigation into public corruption in the Middle District of Louisiana, U.S. Attorney Ray Lamonica said.

The extortion counts involve Ray’s dealings with Shepherd Oil Co., a Jennings-based ethanol plant; Roland W. Laurent & Associates, Inc., Dawson Engineers, Inc., and Southeastern Engineering, Inc., companies seeking engineering contracts with the Department of Transportation and Development; and John Mmahat and Robert Westerlund, who own companies doing business with the Department of Health and Human Resources.

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